You aren’t incredibly gifted? Well, welcome to the club of the “average.” Most of us dwell there. As an encouragement, let me introduce you to Simon Prevette. He is a man you have never heard of, but he is a man you should know.
The first church I had the honor of laboring at was a medium-size church in rural North Carolina. As has been my practice at every church I have attended or served, I spent the first six months seeking out the oldest members of the congregation. I have found that there are few things more important than knowing the history of the church to which you belong.
In my conversations with the older individuals (in their seventies and eighties) of the church, I kept hearing a particular name: Simon Prevette. Every older man in the congregation seemed to be unable to tell the history of the church without mentioning Simon. At first I thought Simon must have been one of the early pastors. However, that was far from the case. Everyone said the same things about Simon: he was small in stature, had a humble demeanor, was reticent to speak in public, often served behind the scenes, and was a very “ordinary” layman.
Though Simon was not the type of man people would point to as an incredibly gifted leader, he had a lasting impact upon the church that surpassed even the most gifted pastors this church had enjoyed over its history. How did Simon do this? In a very “average” way. On Sundays, the young boys of the church were invited to Simon’s house for afternoon walks. And as they walked through the woods, he would talk to them about trees, plants, birds, and…Christ. He did so in an unassuming manner. There was no weekly agenda, no plotting, and no preaching; just an older man spending time with young boys and allowing the Lord to work in His seemingly simple ways for profound ends. These now seventy-year old men all pointed to Simon Prevette as one, if not the key, instrument used by the Lord to draw them to saving faith.
I am thankful for high-talent men—those nine and ten talent individuals. However let’s be honest, most of us are at best, gifted with average talents. Our prayers don’t move mountains, revivals haven’t erupted from our evangelism efforts, and crowds aren’t flocking to hear us teach or preach. And yet, some of the greatest fruit born for the sake of the Kingdom stems from the labors of seemingly average-talent men and women. The Lord often uses the humblest of men in the most significant ways.
On one Sunday before the morning service began and during the announcements, I decided to demonstrate this very thing to the congregation. I asked everyone in the room who could say Simon Prevette was instrumental in their coming to saving faith to stand. These eight to ten older men of the congregation stood. I then asked everyone to look at these men, who many had known as their elders when they were children and young adults, and asked those who could say one of these men had been instrumental in the Lord drawing them to saving faith to stand. At this point, one-third of the room was now on its feet. Then came the incredible picture that I will never forget. I asked everyone to look at these individuals and to stand if any of these individuals had been used by the Lord in drawing them to saving faith. In a congregation which numbered around four hundred on that Sunday morning, there were maybe forty people left sitting.
Simon Prevette was by all accounts an average talent man, but the Lord used him in a mighty way. You don’t have to have ten talents. You don’t have to have nine. You just have to be faithful with what the Lord has given you. He can do mighty things with weak vessels.
I never met Simon. He had entered glory far ahead of my coming to the church. Yet, he has sat on my shoulder for over ten years as a faithful example and encouragement to me. The church could use a lot more men and women like Simon—saints who are just faithful where they are at, faithful with what they have been given, and content that God receive the glory.
[This article first appeared on Kevin DeYoung’s Blog for The Gospel Coalition. Jason Helopoulos was the guest blogger.]